How to Move With Pets (and stay sane)

How to Move With Pets (and stay sane)

Anyone who’s been through the process of moving houses knows that it’s an extremely stressful experience. Add a screaming cat or an overenthusiastic dog to the whole thing and it becomes a circus.

So how can you best prepare for this big event without losing your mind and stressing your animal companion?

We’re here to help you with that! Just follow our advice and you can turn this relocation into a fun trip!

Preparing your Pets for the Move

Preparations are really important since they will set the whole mood from the very beginning. The calmer and happier your pet is prior to the move, the easier it will be.

So let’s see how you can prepare to move with your pets!

Keep them away from the commotion

If you have free-roaming pets, such as cats and dogs, they will most likely be a complete nightmare during the packing process. Going into boxes, chewing items, moving stuff around – basically everything that will make things harder for you.

So to avoid that, just keep them in a different room and start packing furniture and items from the rooms one by one. If you have pets in an enclosure, like reptiles, fish, arachnids, etc., it doesn’t really matter that much, as they will just stay there until you move them.

Hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, and pet rabbits are very sensitive animals that are easily stressed. If you’re planning any loud activities in the room such as dismantling furniture, cleaning with a vacuum, put them as far away from the noise as possible.

In any case, you’ll probably have to do a deep clean of the property before you move out in order to get your deposit. Whether you’re doing it by yourself or by hiring a professional company, there’s bound to be a lot of noise. For example, pet urine stains are quite difficult to remove. Well, you can still try some DIY methods like these, but most likely, you would have to hire an expert carpet cleaner. And their machines are very noisy. Surely to scare away any pet on the premises.

On the day of the move, free-roaming pets are best kept away, so see if there is a friend willing to take them in. A lot of activity and people can cause stress to your animals since they have no idea what’s going on. Pets in enclosures should be kept in the furthest room from all the commotion.

Prepare the New Home

In order for your animals to settle in as smoothly as possible, you need to replicate their usual environment. If you have an animal that requires an enclosure, you have to prepare the one at the new place in advance. Reptiles, fish, amphibians and spiders cannot be outside of their enclosures for a very long time so it’s important to settle that before you transport them.

As for dogs and cats, they will have a whole new place to explore and get used to, but that will be a lot easier if they have a familiar corner. Choose a place in the property that will be your pet’s space, and put their bed, food, toys, favourite blanket – whatever makes them comfortable and reminds them of home.

A great tactic for dog owners is to walk their furry friends around the neighbourhood before they relocate, to get them used to the new environment.

Travelling with Pets

Now it’s time for the big move. We recommend that you travel either by car or by plane. Any other means of public transportation can be very stressful for the animal, thus stressing you out, as well. The car allows you to control the environment and make sure your animal friends feel good. The plane is not an ideal option, but it usually shortens the journey and they have special compartments for animals.

Start by creating a checklist for all the things you will need so you don’t miss anything. Naturally, every animal has its own needs, but there are certain things that are universal.

Let’s check them out:

  • ID tags and documents. Probably one of the most important items you can’t afford to forget, especially if you’re flying or travelling to another country. Keep your pets’ documents with yours to make sure you won’t lose them. ID tags can be attached to your cat or dog’s leash, to the leg of your bird, or to the enclosure/box you’re using for your rodent and reptile friend. On the tag, you should write your name, their name, your phone number and your new address.
  • Collars and leashes. If you’re travelling with a cat or a dog, they will most likely be in a carrier, unless you have a very big dog that doesn’t fit into one. That’s why it’s good to have them on a leash or a harness for when they are walking around, for example at the airport or train station. In case you’re travelling in a car, you will probably make stops along the way, and that’s when you really need a leash. You might have a pet that has never run away but now they are in an unknown environment and a very stressful situation, so you can’t really assess their behaviour. Better safe than sorry.
  • A bag with snacks and toys. Dogs and cats need to be entertained along the way unless you’re one of the few lucky people that enjoy the company of a sleepy companion and don’t need to think about fun activities. In any other case, your furry friend will get bored or hungry and it’s wise to be prepared with lots of snacks and their favourite toys to keep them busy.
  • Pet carrier. For small dogs and cats you can use a normal carrier, just make sure they have enough space to lie down comfortably and stand up. Snakes, lizards, and turtles should be transported in a pillowcase which is then put in a cardboard box. Make sure you have a heating pad taped to the inside top of the box and there’s enough insulation there. Geckos, spiders should ideally be put in a small plastic container and again in an insulated cardboard box with a heating pad.
  • A first aid kit. Take what you need to ensure your pets’ wellbeing, including a first aid kit in case of an accident. Bandages, ointments, whatever your little animal friend might need. If you’re not sure what to take, visit your vet before the travel and ask for advice on what to bring and how to prepare your animal for the move.

Travelling by Land

This is the recommended travel option since it’s the one where you have the most control. You can stop whenever you want, you can position your pets in the best possible way and change the environment like temperature, speed, airflow, etc.

If you have a cat or a dog, we recommend that you keep them in the carrier. However, if you know that your pet is good with car trips and won’t cause any problems, you can also let them roam free. Just ensure you’re making enough stops so that they can go potty if needed.

Any other animal should be in the carrier/box/enclosure you put them in. For reptiles, make sure they’re not exposed to heat, keep the AC on if possible. They need to be secured so that the box doesn’t move. You can tuck them in between the other luggage or even secure the carrier with a seatbelt.

Don’t feed your reptile before the travel. If you do, they can become aggressive or even regurgitate their food during the trip.

Guinea pigs, rodents and bunnies should be in a dark environment, a box ideally, with their appropriate bedding and something to munch on. Try to secure the carrier so they don’t move as much because they can get easily scared.

Flying with Pets

The very first thing you do, even before you buy your ticket, is to check with the courier whether they accept animals or not. Some companies only allow service dogs and therapy animals. Others allow small cats and dogs but refuse to take reptiles. Just make sure that you won’t get kicked out of the airport.

You will need to get a clean bill of health, no matter the animal, so you can present it to the airline and prove that your pet is good to travel. Some of them have special requirements for the carriers that are allowed about the aircraft and the ones that go to the cargo area, so make sure you follow them thoroughly. Put labels on the boxes and enclosures, as many as you can, to ensure nothing will get mixed and you will recognise them immediately.

Reptile enclosures need to be tightly secured and you will probably have to pay extra. We recommend that you just get a new one from the place you’re moving to. It will save a lot of hassle. Another option is to ship the enclosure with or without your animal, right when you leave. This way you won’t have to worry about the logistics of the whole process.


Moving house is a big change and a very nerve-racking experience. However, with people, it’s a bit dumbed down by the overall excitement and the fact that we know what we’re doing. For animals, it’s their life turned around without them having the slightest idea of what’s going on. So it’s our responsibility as sentient beings to help our animal companions go through this process smoothly and efficiently.

Leave a Reply